“We had a good run; our days in the sun so come what may”. When we form relationships, whether it is with family, friends, or ourselves we tend to live beyond the moment. Many of us tend to fill our existence with expectations and find ourselves more and more confused when things inevitably turn a different direction than we expected them. Even those of us not living in a constant fast forward or rewind are forced to react to the unexpected. This not only applies universally but thematically to Pain of Salvation’s upcoming album, In the Passing Light of Day. We have heard the words “Come What May” sung by Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw in the past but the weight of those words on this album are particularly poignant. In the Passing Light of Day holds significance not only as the first proper studio album the band has released since 2011 but the first since Daniel Gildenlöw survived a life threatening illness that left him hospitalized and in recovery for much of 2014. Additionally, In the Passing Light of Day will hold significance as one of the strongest releases from one of the most innovative bands in the progressive music world.
The buzz surrounding a new Pain of Salvation album was basically palpable with hints of a return to form for the band. Visions of the progressive and heavy sounds that we fell in love with danced in our heads. However, in true Pain of Salvation style, what was created was not exactly what we expected. What we received is a stylistic culmination of their entire musical career. In the Passing Light of Day continues building on the mature songwriting and raw performances of the Road Salt albums while bringing back the heavier progressive sounds fans have been clamoring for. The album also is the first to feature the current, and arguably strongest, lineup on an album of all new material. Moreover, it is the first to feature current guitarist Ragnar Zolberg in a creative capacity, as Pain of Salvation is understood in recent years to be driven exclusively by frontman Daniel Gildenlöw. This creative input combined with the extraordinary vocal ability, powerful leads and the fact that he has a sleeveless Whitenake Lovehunter shirt (which may be the greatest rock album cover of all time) makes Ragnar not only as cool as about five Doug Aldritches but also an overall massive addition to the band. Honestly, image search this guy and tell me you don’t want a poster of him on your wall.
The album begins with “On a Tuesday” which delivers the heaviest riff we have heard from the band in years and quickly enters an emotionally charged verse that sets the tone for the album. The song lyrically immediately begins to address the human experience from a level of vulnerability some people don’t express in a lifetime. The song addresses the promises we as people make daily and how inevitably we will not be able to keep them, each claim we make hinging on the assumption that there will be a future to experience them within, followed by the anger and loss one feels facing this reality.
For those fans looking for a classic Pain of Salvation song “Full Throttle Tribe” is exactly that. I immediately felt like I was reunited with an old friend as soon as I heard the odd rhythms build into a melodic and anthemic chorus. However, the standout tracks come in the last two songs on the album, “If This Is the End” and “The Passing Light of day”. This twenty-one minutes of music emotionally puts the listener in the perspective of someone facing the uncertainty of a life potentially at its end. “If This Is The End” sways beautifully between the laborious feelings of a man exhausted and truthfully facing his end and a swelling of raw ferocity that epitomizes a man frustrated and fighting for his life. The band captures these opposing ideas musically as each mellow chord seems to be dragged toward the next leading into what feels like a last grasp fueled by fury and exemplified by some of the most vehement vocals in the bands catalog.
The album officially closes with “The Passing Light of Day” which in every detail encapsulates the album faultlessly, from the sound of the scratching of the strings as each chord slowly changes to the simultaneous acceptance and desperation in the vocals as they reverberate and fade. The song builds gorgeously and hints at the fierceness of some of the earlier tracks but ultimately settles with a beautiful outro that feels restful conclusive. “…we may wish we could run, just walk away from the passing light of day but at some point we need to stop and say, it’s okay…it’s okay”.
In the Passing Light of Day is Pain of Salvation at their finest. They have always been a band that exists in a state of balance. Whether it is rhythm and melody, raw delivery and virtuosity, progressive and straightforward, or uplifting and hopeless, this album is truly the culmination of all the phases of Pain of Salvation and will appeal to all fans of the band from die hard Remedy Lane purists’ to fans of the Road Salt albums.
“There is not love of life without despair about life.” –Albert Camus
RIYL: Leprous, Steven Wilson, Wolverine, Haken
In The Passing Light Of Day track listing:
01. On A Tuesday
02. Tongue Of God
04. Silent Gold
05. Full Throttle Tribe
07. Angels Of Broken Things
08. The Taming Of A Beast
09. If This Is The End
10. The Passing Light Of Day